Marlin, mahimahi, mulloway, whiting, flathead and tailor are the headline acts this summer. With Christmas behind us and family commitments having been met, maybe we are off the chain and now free to do some serious fishing!
Offshore is looking hot. Water temperatures are climbing, the marlin are out there rounding up bait, and this is how to find them; find the bait and the predators are never too far away. The more bait, the better your chances are.
Quite often you can approach the Continental Shelf and find a massive amount of bait straight up, but not have any enquiries on lures or livies. The day is young, so you drive off to the north or south after checking the wind direction, only to find that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. You see nothing as promising as where you started, so after wasting your paycheck on fuel you return to where the bait is, only to find a dozen marlin feeding and have probably been there the whole time.
I don’t know of any occasion where it was a bad idea to stay with the bait, especially a large amount — volumes where you call everyone aboard over to look at the sounder and you all say, “There has got to be fish here!” That’s probably because there is — or they’re not far away.
So if this happens I suggest sticking around and filling the live bait tank. Slow down, relax, and take your time with preparing some livies. Put one out the back on the surface and you can run another down deeper by attaching a breakaway sinker to the snap swivel with an elastic band. This way you are covering 2 depths, and if seals are present, then running a bait deep is another way around them. We have downriggers at a great price in stock here at the Compleat Angler Batemans Bay. These attach to a stainless steel fitting that slots into a rod holder if you don’t want to or can’t fit a downrigger base to your boat.
If you get bored drifting or slow trolling, you can always get some skip baits ready if you haven’t done so already — or pull the livies in and drive around with teasers ready for switching. If you want to be a bit more relaxed and take a gamble, then try lures with hooks.
Driving out a bit wider looking for a blue marlin can yield results, but I would stay within the vicinity of the bait if it is still present and looks promising. Going away a little and coming back to it breaks up the monotony. There are plenty of options and ways to catch a marlin, and sometimes it’s the tide change that makes it all happen. By February the season will be in full swing and then we can talk about switching a marlin and the new gear designed for it.
It’s looking like another good season on the mahimahi, with some nice ones being caught to date. You can just about count on the FAD to be holding these guys throughout the summer months.
We have had a few encounters with kingfish so far, and it’s looking like an improvement on last year, but that isn’t hard to beat. Eden has seen a few, Montague has had a lot of rats, Batemans Bay a few average ones here and there, Ulladulla also, with some average schools, and Jervis Bay has been the place for your better numbers as usual. Fingers crossed we get some big schools holding at our south coast haunts over the coming months.
On the reef fishing side of things, spring snapper were out wide in big schools, but fishos who persisted in close with lures found some nice fish every now and then. As usual for that time of the year though, the bigger schools were out in 60m and deeper.
Throughout summer you would fish the same way; lures and plastics in close, and work your way offshore during the day. Fishing gets tough on the reef through the summer months though, so prepare for a number of scenarios and move around. I have a shark rig ready to go on a heavy outfit, a 7-8’ rod with a 60g lure to tempt a king or mahimahi, and a jigging outfit. So if a shark comes along or some kingies bust up, I’m ready to go and am making the most of any opportunity that may arise. Plenty of times you’ll be standing there with the wrong equipment in your hands and can only watch open-mouthed as a kingfish pack pops up out of nowhere and decimates a bait school. So be prepared to move around in the summer months and make the most out of your reef fishing.
On the beaches, whiting started big and there were plenty throughout spring. I expect this to continue during summer. Durras and Broulee beaches have plenty of beach worms, which are the ideal bait for what are the number 1 table fish in a lot of people’s eyes. There have been some catches of whiting in the estuaries also.
Speaking of, the estuaries are definitely doing their thing, with mulloway leading the charge into the warmer months. Paul Walker and Layton Brant caught 5 in a single night on squid, Daniel Dowley has been getting amongst it as well, and Jem ‘The Whisperer’ Abbot had great success on the same bait. John Hilyear is the man to beat though, with one of his many during the season weighing in at 30kg, caught on a live mullet.
As the estuary is busy during the day with all kinds of craft, mulloway are more of a night target, but during the daylight hours the flathead have been big and numerous. Many fishos are still not familiar with flathead sizes and their potential as breeders, as we get a lot of reports of people keeping 70cm plus fish. This is your choice if you need to feed a family, but if more people knew they were the breeders and started releasing them, this would benefit us all. They don’t taste so good at that size either, so it’s best to keep the 36-50cm ones, but it is encouraging to see so many big girls in the estuary.
Tailor have been big this season and there have been plenty around. They’re good fun — until they take your favourite lure! Bream are about, but have probably been the most elusive species in the Clyde. Bass upstream, trevally, garfish, blackfish and estuary perch have all been on script — it’s just a matter of finding your part in this picture, so get out there and make it happen!
Jem Abbot's PB snapper off the stones weighed 4.6kg.
Jem again, with proof that there are also some good squid around.
Nicholas Wain with a big snapper!Reads: 914